The Carapace Trilogy
In a recent choral piece of mine based on a collection of
texts (Carapace*23) by (mostly) South African poets the image of a
number of people crossing at a traffic intersection provided an
important point of departure.
The individuals, like the poets, having interests as different as their
backgrounds, each existing in their own world (shell?), sometimes
interacting while passing or bumping into one another, sometimes just
finding themselves in the same place as an other (like it or not).
In the flute piece a rural layer has been superimposed over the urban
map of the choral piece, the flautist also bringing some extra's to the
party as she travels through this mixed landscape.
twenty three carapi
The texts for twenty three carapi are taken from a collection of poems
(Carapace*23) that I came across on a recent trip to my home country,
South Africa. As explained in the editorial this particular edition was
international in character and endeavoured “in a small way, as one of
its inchoate policies..., to reverse the direction of cultural
colonialism. We bring non-South African poets to the attention of local
readers and vice versa.”
Despite the international point of departure, the poets featured are
all either South African or have some connection with South Africa.
Tatamkhulu Afrika (one of the African poets included in the collection
but not featured in my settings) for example is mentioned in the poem
by Sujata Bhatt, an Indian poetess living with her husband Michael
Augustin (himself an artist, prose-poet and broadcaster) in Bremen, a
town in which I myself spent some two years studying. Sujata’s name in
turn recurs in the poem by James Matthews, a South African poet and
The personal character of this thread of names is continued in lighter
and often intimate texts such as Caroline Long’s The Mozart Café
or Stephanie Shutte’s poem about a childhood romance picked up after
many years and continued despite great geographical distance. Alongside
these poems one finds more serious reflections on religion in Adam
Schwartzman’s intricate Rhapsody or on the nature of creativity in Leon
de Kock’s The Wall for example. In this respect I feel that the
collection reflects a little of the diversity of South Africa and its
peoples. Individuals each carrying a shell that helps them define their
own world in the presence of others. Sometimes interacting and
transforming one-another, sometimes just existing in the same space.
kara p 2. 00 3
The last in a trilogy of pieces begun with the setting (twenty
three carapi) of (mostly) South African Poems found in the
The metrical structure of the flute piece (carapace 23.7)
that grew out of the choral piece retained - rather like a street
layout that remains in the aftermath of war, forced removal or planned
Areas wiped clean provide space for the new.
Surviving fragments reconstructed or developed in ways not previously
possible or imagined.
The process of erasure takes on a fascination of its own - "what to do
with all this newly liberated territory?"
Alongside the live musicians recorded readings from Rem Koolhaas' S,M,L,XL
(Globalization, Singaporesongline: 30 years of Tabula Rasa) ; Clive
Chipkin's Deurmekaar Johannesburg (Township - , Post -War
Johannesburg) and Karen Press' The home that you built, an
accumulative poem used by Lien Botha in her contribution to the District
Six Culture Project.
Recording of the première by Anne la Berge,
April 2000 at the Beethoven Room, Grahamstown, South Africa.
Recording of the première by the Koor Nieuwe Musik Amsterdam
,17th March 2000 at the Korzo Theater, Den Haag.
kara p 2 .00 3
A studio (midi) realisation of the piece incorporating fragments from
the première performance which took place on the 3rd of July
2000 a the Beethoven Room, Grahamstown, South Africa.